Rating: 18/Adult/NC-17 overall
Warnings: Smexy timez
Disclaimer: Anything recognisable to Torchood S1, 2 and 3 belongs to Russell T. Davies at the BBC. Now pass the Retcon.
Summary: Set five years after Another Life.
Five Years Later
Ianto lay on his side, naked, watching the clock.
Ten to eleven.
He estimated Jack would be home any moment now, so he brought his hand up from underneath the covers, wiping his slick fingers on a tissue and making sure Jack would see the tube of lubricant when he came in. He'd be tired, so Ianto had done most of the work by preparing himself for him and getting completely naked, in bed ready and waiting.
The front door opened and closed quietly, and Ianto's breath caught in anticipation.
Tonight, Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones were going to have sex - and it was about bloody time.
There were the footsteps going up the stairs, and socked feet shuffling down the landing. There was the creak of Giacomo's bedroom door as Jack looked in on him, the second creak as it was closed again and then the shuffling moving closer to his and Ianto's bedroom. The door whispered open, and Ianto had already made sure the covers were only just covering his hips as he lay spread out on his back, the duvet low enough that Jack would see he was definitely naked and horny, but hiding enough to still be tantalizing.
Ianto listened patiently to Jack sluggishly undressing and carelessly tossing his work suit onto the dressing chair. He cracked an eye open to see if the Captain had noticed his rather gratuitous hint, and found that Jack was obliviously peeling off his clothes with a toothbrush hanging out of his mouth. Naked, he returned to the en suite to spit and rinse, came back ... and threw himself face down on the bed and closed his eyes.
Sitting up, Ianto folded his arms.
This had not gone according to plan. He shook Jack's shoulder, and Jack grumbled into his pillow before turning slightly.
"Did I wake you?" he asked.
"No. I waited up," Ianto scowled.
"You didn't have to," Jack smiled, patting his thigh then seemingly getting snuggled down again.
Ianto cleared his throat loudly. "In case you haven't noticed ... I'm naked," he announced.
"Me too," Jack mumbled into the pillow.
"I waited up for you, and I'm naked," Ianto hinted.
Jack cracked an eye open, somehow managing to look confused with only half his face visible. "Are you hinting something?"
"No, Jack. I'm practically beating you around the head with it," Ianto retorted, his arms still folded. "When was the last time we had sex?"
"Pfft!" Jack waved away his concerns. "We have sex all the time."
"Are you ill? We haven't had sex for a month and a half! I. Am. Going. Insane."
Jack groaned. "I'm tired, Ianto. I've been at work since-"
"Since nine. And then you worked overtime from five until ten thirty, got home too exhausted to do anything and now you're going to sleep until six thirty, when you'll get up before we do and be on your way to work before Giacomo's brushed his teeth."
Jack rolled onto his back. "I work hard because I'm the only earner - you live comfortably, don't you? You nor Giacomo want for anything, do you? And that's because I'm good at my job, and I have to work my ass off-"
"Work fewer hours, we'll move house and we'll have time together! Giacomo misses you, and you live in the same house! I haven't had sex for nearly two months, and we share the same bed! I would much rather know you're going to be home in time for dinner than live in a house that's far too big and I don't even like."
Jack tried to stare him down a second, then turned back onto his stomach. "I'm not having this argument again, Ianto."
Ianto watched him for a second, then lay down and curled into his own side of the bed, his back to Jack. He bit down hard on the pillow (not the sort of pillow-biting he'd had in mind for that night) to try and stop himself shaking as his eyes began to burn.
He felt an arm drape over his waist and Jack's body heat as he pulled himself closer. Jack's breath touched his cheek, and lips pressed a chaste kiss to the bone. "I still love you."
Ianto sniffed. "Are you sure? 'Cause it hasn't felt like it for a while now."
He could picture Jack's expression in his head, his mouth opening to reply, then closing as he thought better of it. Ianto felt the hand on his shoulder pulling him to lie on his back, and shuffled until he could do so and watched Jack leaning down to kiss his mouth again.
The contact felt good, and his eyes closed as he felt Jack relax against him, hands running down from his shoulders, to his tummy and lower. He grunted into Jack's mouth when he felt a hand coaxing him with little effort to hardness, and reached down Jack's body to return the favour.
Five minutes later, and Ianto wasn't having much luck in the Getting Jack Hard department, and he broke the kiss in momentary surprise before deciding not to make a big deal of it. Jack had probably already noticed, anyway. Instead he pushed Jack into his back, kissed his way down his body and took him into his mouth.
Jack's hand tangled loosely in his hair, and as Jack lay back and let Ianto set to work, he finally felt him getting hard in his mouth. He kept going, licking, sucking and doing everything that he knew Jack liked, and Jack moaned throatily.
Jack was hard. Jack was relaxed. Jack was putty in his hands. Jack was ... asleep.
Ianto stared at him for a second, mouth open, erection in one hand and balls in the other.
Wondering if he may have been selfish, he crawled back up the bed and lay down, tugging an arm until Jack's head was resting on his chest. He considered finishing himself off, then decided he didn't have the effort to care any more.
Stroking Jack's hair gently, Ianto closed his eyes and, too, fell asleep.
“I dun' wanna geddup!”
Ianto pulled the covers harshly away from Giacomo's body, and Giacomo squeaked indignantly and curled up into a ball.
“Please, Giacomo,” Ianto begged in exasperation. “It's your last day of primary school – can we at least try and make it easy?”
Giacomo groaned melodramatically. “I hate school.”
“I know, I know. Your teachers are evil and the other kids just don't understand you – Your breakfast will be ready in five minutes and it's getting eaten whether you're there or not.”
Ianto turned on his heel and hurried downstairs just as Jack was sliding his sensible work coat on. “You off then?”
“Yep. I'll see you later.” He leaned in a pecked his cheek.
“I won't wait up,” Ianto curtly informed him, carrying on into the kitchen. He heard Jack shouting goodbye to Giacomo, Giacomo's answering grunt and then the front door slamming shut. Noisily, Ianto rattled the bowls and cutlery as he got two bowls of chocolate flavoured cereal ready, making sure the fridge door made as loud a bang as possible when he flung it shut after retrieving the milk and again when he put it back.
“Giacomo!” he yelled, “Breakfast! Now!”
Ianto rolled his eyes, glanced up at the clock and then checked his watch to make sure they were synchronised. Sitting down at the breakfast bar, he set to work on his cereal and mentally planned out his day.
Dust, hoover, watch some daytime TV; maybe wash his car if the weather held out. Lunch, washing up, afternoon TV … maybe go shopping for the sake of it.
There was a loud yawn from the hallway moments before Giacomo entered and dragged himself into his seat. He blearily picked up his spoon and shovelled in some soggy cereal.
“Good morning,” Ianto tried brightly.
“Ugh,” Giacomo scowled.
“So … what do you think you'll be up to today?”
“Usual end of year stuff,” shrugged Giacomo. “We're allowed to take toys in. I'm gonna take my laser swords.”
“You are not,” Ianto told him firmly.
“Because you'll have someone's eye out. Again.”
“That was Jack's fault!” - Ianto flinched at Giacomo calling Jack by name - “You know he plays too rough! And he got given a new one.”
Jack had actually shot himself in the head so that he could get a new one, but Ianto wasn't going to mention that. “That's beside the point,” he scolded. “There'll be lots of other kids running around, and you'll do damage. Take your dance mat or something.”
“Can I take Shirley, then?”
“Shirely's old. The shock might kill her – and who'll keep me company all day?”
Giacomo grumbled something unintelligible, and Ianto sighed into his coffee, watching him getting up from his stool and dumping his bowl in the sink before heading back upstairs. Ianto took a sip, decided he didn't want any more and poured it away.
He busied himself washing up the plates Jack and Giacomo had left, then wiped around the kitchen as he waited for the sounds of Giacomo coming back downstairs, ready and waiting to be taken to school.
Thundering down the steps as he usually did, Giacomo stopped in the hall and shouted through the house that he was ready. Ianto checked his bag, removed the laser swords and put his lunch in, then shut the front door behind them both as he walked Giacomo the ten minutes to school. They said goodbye at the gates, Giacomo only accepting a kiss on the cheek, and he ran off to find his friends before the bell went.
Ianto trudged home, kicking a stone on the way. God, he needed to get laid – or at the very least survive a near-death experience for the adrenalin rush.
He missed adrenalin.
Jack wouldn't let him go bungee jumping, or skydiving, or paragliding, abseiling, skiing, snowboarding, jet-packing, space touring, high-altitude-hover-crafting …
Jack made him stay nice and safe, secreted away at home … then ignored him.
Ianto detoured toward the rougher part of town, deciding to drop in on Rhys and Till. He knocked, but there was no reply, so Ianto went around the back to see if Rhys was in his shed. Knocking on the plastic door, he heard Rhys yell for him to come in. He pushed it open and entered, finding Rhys and his neighbour, Giles, stood next to computer slash engine hybrid thing. They were grimy, the scent of some form of engine oil strong around the shed and an air of 'men at work' about the two men stood scowling at the technology in front of them.
“Oh! Ianto!” Rhys grinned, stooped under the low ceiling. “Look at this beauty!”
“It's … artwork,” Ianto nodded. “What the Hell is it?”
“It's part of the engine from my new car. We're modifying it a bit – see if we can coax a little more reliability in there.”
“I see,” replied Ianto.
Giles tapped the engine. “We're gonna replace the steering circuits, reprogram the component drivers and maybe change the lubricant for the mechanical parts to something a bit more long-lasting first. Any ideas?”
“Erm …” Ianto was pretty sure the lubricant brands he'd been thinking about weren't supposed to be used in car engine cyborg things. “I'm more of a driver than …” He waved his hand in their direction, feeling out of place looking prim and perfect while Rhys and Giles were … well … Men At Work.
“What you driving?” asked Giles, reaching for a tool and somehow using it on one of the computerised and exposed circuit boards.
“A Jupiter Optitia Mark II.”
“Oo, nice. Colour?”
“Nope. Just two.”
Giles stared at him a moment. “You bought it yesterday or something?”
“No, I got one when they first came out. I just haven't … really been allowed to drive it much.”
Rhys stepped in. “He doesn't have his license yet. His husband's teaching him, isn't he, Ianto?”
“When he has time.”
Giles laughed. “I bet he's stalling so you can't drive off and finally leave him.”
Ianto raised an eyebrow, and Giles and Rhys shared a look. Clearly, they'd been talking about him and Jack. Ianto cleared his throat. “He'll teach me this summer – Anyway, I only dropped in to see if you wanted company, Rhys, and since you do I shall be on my way. Wouldn't want to intrude in other peoples' business, after all.”
“I'll … I'll walk with you to the gate,” Rhys muttered, following him out.
Ianto strode purposefully through the garden and to the gate leading to the front of the house.
“What Giles said,” Rhys began. “You know he's only going off my point of view, and I never really liked Jack that much anywa-”
“Save it, Rhys. I'm not in the mood.”
“It was just an off-the-cuff comment, Ianto. No harm meant.”
“I know. It's just …”
Ianto paused, stuffing his hands into his coat pocket. “You promise not to breathe a word to Jack?”
“On my engine, I swear.”
“Good – 'cause Giles is spot on. I am thinking of leaving Jack.”
Rhys stared at him a moment, dumbfounded, so he simply walked away.
Ianto approached the front of his house, glaring at it as it came into view.
He lived in a pebble-dashed house.
He would have been perfectly happy living on this street in this house – had the exterior of it never been more than a few feet away, mocking him with the tacky distastefulness of its fashion faux-pas. Whomever designed this street and decided that pebble-dashed cladding would be a good idea should have been fired, as far as Ianto was concerned. He'd tried to get Jack to have it taken off, but the rest of the street complained that their expensive terraces wouldn't match and it wasn't fair if they did have it removed.
Taking his shoes off in the corridor, Ianto made his way into the living room to feed Shirley. He gently nudged her awake and pushed one of her soft pieces of nutrient cubes into her mouth. Making sure she ate it all, he stroked the top of her head and thought about how much he missed her being all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, able to run around and do generally doggy things, cheering him up.
She was old now, with greying fur around her face and nose, weak teeth and arthritic legs. Ianto was thinking about having her put down, but he'd become far too attached to actually make himself get her an appointment.
Carefully, Ianto lifted her and cuddled her to his chest, and she snuggled into him and yawned. “You're so lazy,” he sighed, turning to sit on the sofa and nearly dropping her in shock to discover Jack sat in his spot, watching him. “Woah! Jesus, Jack! You nearly gave me a heart attack!”
“Where have you been?” Jack asked quietly.
“I dropped Giacomo off at school and then nipped to Rhys'. Why are you home?” Ianto replied as he set Shirley down in one of the play mazes Jack and Giacomo had made when they'd first left the School and moved to the real world.
“I got fired,” Jack croaked.
Ianto felt suddenly very cold. “What? Why?”
“There has to be a reason why!” Ianto, exasperated, ran a hand through his hair. “I mean – how much overtime do you work? How fucking hard do you work?”
“I told them I couldn't quit the overtime, and they told me they couldn't afford to keep me.”
“But they gave you two weeks' notice, right?” Ianto asked, sitting down next to him.
“Aren't you going to comfort me, Ianto?”
“Oh, Jack,” Ianto breathed. “I didn't mean to come across … Come here,” he said, and pulled Jack into him, tucking Jack's head under his chin and kissing his forehead. “We'll figure it out, don't worry. I'll put some coffee on, you can pick something to do or whatever and we'll just pretend you're having a day off and relax a bit.”
Ianto got up, and started for the kitchen, but Jack cleared his throat. “I'd rather just go to bed.”
With a shrug and a nod, Ianto agreed. “Come on, then.”
They made their way upstairs, and silent took their clothes off and slid under the covers. They shuffled until they were together in the middle of the bed, and Ianto realised that it was sort of … awkward. He pushed the thought from his mind, leaned forward and pressed their mouths together.
They kissed without hurry, and Ianto again made the first move and pressed his body into Jack's, finding that the Captain wasn't all that hard, if at all. Ianto ran his hand over Jack's body until he could slide it down to grasp his cock, touching and playing and squeezing gently.
Jack stopped kissing him, and before he could say anything, Ianto pulled his head down to bury in his neck and held him tight. He rolled them so that Jack was on his back, kissed and nipped and licked down his body until he could take him into his mouth.
He tried and he tried, but nothing happened.
Conceding defeat, Ianto lay himself back down next to Jack and propped his head up on his hand, resting his other hand on Jack's chest. Jack had covered his eyes with an arm as he lay back, and Ianto couldn't quite believe that the Captain actually seemed embarrassed about something.
“Is this why we haven't had sex for two months?” he asked, gently lifting the arm from over Jack's face. Jack's eyes were glistening as he nodded, and Ianto smiled kindly. “You could have told me. I thought … It doesn't matter what I thought. You need to get some rest.”
“How could this happen to me?” Jack muttered. “I don't ever remember it happening before.”
“Sometimes it just does. You're stressed, Jack. It'll come back soon. We both know it will.”
Jack bit his lip and looked up at him, his eyes glistening a little. “Has this ever happened to you?”
“How could it?” Ianto asked, incredulous. “I've got you.”
“It happened to me, and I've got you.”
“Sweet-talker,” Ianto laughed, and sank down into the bed. “You should sleep, Jack. Even though you barely need to, you've been constantly dead on your feet for far too long.”
Jack nodded silently, and turned over so that he could lie on his favourite position on his front. He was asleep in minutes, and Ianto watched him for a moment. He decided that the past couple of months had been the worst so far, and if it was Jack avoiding him because he couldn't get it up, then he could work past that.
But that didn't change the fact that previously, things hadn't been much better. Jack had still been a workaholic, still used the house as a place to sleep rather than a place to live and still sometimes seemed a stranger in the house.
Even John Hart had probably clocked up more hours in the Harkness and Jones Household than Harkness himself.
Hearing the letterbox zing, Ianto got out of bed and walked downstairs naked. He pressed the button by the door and an official email opened up.
Finally, their final court date.
It had been a battle, in many respects, trying to convince the opposition that he and Jack really were married. It had definitely added to the strain on them. Grant Poole, opposing counsel, had been fired after their first court hearing where he had declared that they were clearly married and married for love.
“He said he loved him so much he hated him. The false marriages are the ones where every tiny little detail is known; every question answered instantly with a correct fact that holds no emotion for the answerer; where they appear to be so happy and so in love they can't take their eyes off each other and constantly talk about how their love is so strong and perfect and everything is sunshine and daisies. He said he loved him so much he hated him – if that's not a real relationship, I don't know what is.”
Apparently, the Commonwealth decided he didn't know, and fired him, appealed the case and then led Jack and Ianto on a merry legal dance. Jack's job didn't just pay for their home and bills and shopping receipts, but the lawyer's fees as well.
What a coincidence he lost his job the day they got news of the hearing.
Ianto hit the 'Print' option and waited for the letter to slide out of the slot. He folded it and took it upstairs, leaving it on Jack's bedside table. He sat on the bed with his laptop and booted it up, muted it and began searching for a new job for Jack, if only to set up interviews to give him something to concentrate on. He printed off a few things, shut down his computer for the time being and got dressed.
'Gone to do buying in x', he scribbled on a scrap of paper and left it by the letter on the bedside table. He stopped in the hall to put on his shoes, slip on his coat and put the fold away wheeled basket in his pocket. Closing the front door behind him, he realised how odd it was to see both his and Jack's cars on the drive at the same time in daylight, and tutted to himself.
How had he let things get this bad?
Pushing the thoughts out of his mind for later, Ianto headed to the huge supermarket on the other side of their housing estate. He had to walk only through the houses themselves, since he didn't have Pedestrian Insurance to walk near any busy main roads or near the city centre without someone who did. God that whole bollocks pissed him off. It was like the Senate were trying to control who could be seen outside or something; the poorest, obviously, couldn't afford it and couldn't get through the scanners.
Ianto just did his usual weekly shop, coasting through the supermarket on autopilot and not really thinking too hard on what he was buying. In his head, he was working overdrive, wondering what the Hell they were going to do if Jack didn't get employed soon. It wasn't a case of maybe selling something so that they could get through a difficult tax year – it was a case of selling everything up until they wound up on the streets.
Part way through the tills, Ianto's phone started ringing and he had to pause scanning his things through the automated self-service station to answer it. He hated the fact that everything was a videophone now, holding it so that the camera could see him and pressing 'Accept'.
“Hey,” Jack smiled tiredly. “Where are you?”
“I'm doing the buying in. I left you note.” Ianto showed Jack the supermarket all around him. “See. I'll be home in half an hour.”
“I can come and pick you up, if you like?”
“Erm … yeah, okay then. I'm paying now, so I'll wait outside the main entrance for you.”
“Okay. Love you.”
Ianto hung up, pushing his phone back into his pocket and growling at the automated voice repeatedly urging him to scan his next item or press 'Finish and Pay'. “Bloody till woman voice,” he growled. “I am, I am!”
Turning to the sound of his name, he blinked, surprised to find Rina from the School's barracks V stood just beyond the barriers holding a carrier bag and wearing some pretty shabby clothes. “Rina?”
She grinned at him. “You remember me.”
Ianto grinned back. “Of course I do.” You're fucking gorgeous, love. “What are you up to these days?” he asked, scanning through his last item and putting it in his fold away basket on the scales so that the machine could weigh everything he had and make sure he hadn't stolen anything.
“Unexpected Item in Bagging Area,” the automatic woman smoothly informed him.
“There fucking isn't,” he growled at her, and Rina laughed.
Ianto lifted his basket, set it down again heavily, and the machine re-weighed it and let him continue. He paid for the shopping and wheeled the basket behind him as he and Rina walked together. “So …” he began. “It's been … five years?”
“There about,” she nodded. “What have you been up to?”
“Domestic bliss,” he told her, distastefully. “Yourself?”
“I got sent out with Freddie – you remember him, right? Brainbox blonde?”
“He got a job in the Senate doing something or other for Defence, I'm stuck at home all day doing nothing. I did have a job at Biosyn Factories, but after they went under jobs became gold dust. We had to give up our house, move somewhere shabby and sell quite a bit of stuff, but we get by. Yourself? You went with the Captain, didn't you?”
“Yeah, still with him, too. We're doing okay – we have a house down Gladstone.”
“It's pebble-dashed,” he grumbled.
“Ugh. How terrible for you.”
Ianto felt a little uncomfortable, so jerked his head in the direction of the exit. She walked with him as they went. “So … you and Freddie … y'know?”
“We got married after two years.”
“It's okay,” she shrugged. “You and the Captain?”
“Call him Jack,” laughed Ianto. “But yeah – we're doing all right. He works at the Senate, too.”
“Total workaholic, never stops. In before time, out only because the security guards pull their guns.”
“Yep, that's Jack.”
“Must be lovely for you and the kid.”
Ianto remained silent, and he figured that spoke more volumes than if he'd admitted the truth. Rina halted beside him as he stopped to wait for Jack. There was a moment of awkward silence, but Rina filled it. “Still on your suit thing, then?”
He laughed. “Yeah. You could call it that.”
“All dressed up and nowhere to go?”
“That's not true – I came to the supermarket, didn't I?” he pointed out. “Oh – there's Jack.” He pointed at a midnight blue Corsair four gliding through the car park, masculine, powerful and so very Jack. “Where do you live, Rina? I'm sure we could give you a lift?”
“Oh, I live over there. It's pedestrianised, so there's no point.”
“Ah, okay then.”
“It was good seeing you again, Ianto. We should meet up and catch up properly some time.”
“Yeah,” Ianto nodded. “I'll give you my address. You can just pop by whenever, but Jack on a bit of a holiday from work at the moment, so … It'll be fine. Just whenever.”
Rina shrugged. “Okay, I'll see you whenever, then?”
The car pulled up next to them as Rina waved goodbye and set off. Ianto put his shopping in the boot and climbed into the passenger car. “That was Rina from the School,” he pointed. “She lives in Hoole now.”
“Rina? You fancied her.”
Ianto blushed. “Did not.”
“Did. She was in the barracks with you, wasn't she?”
“Yeah. She's married to Freddie now.”
“That's nice. Well, anyway … I found the letter, just so you know. Court date in two weeks – kind of them to give us plenty of notice.”
“Jack … What if-?”
“They won't,” Jack cut him off, pulling out of the car park onto the road. “I was thinking I would take you somewhere for lunch. Where do you like?”
Ianto shifted in his seat as he thought for a moment. “I just went shopping. We could cobble together a picnic and sit by the canal?”
Jack nodded. “Okay, so I'll head toward home, then?”
The rest of the journey was awkwardly silent, and eventually Jack put some music on. It was all noisy, techno and nonsensical, so he changed the station, found more of the same and changed it again. Eventually, he just switched it off. He parked up outside the house, and Ianto nipped inside to put the frozen stuff in the freezer section of their kitchen storage and the cool and fresh stuff in the fridge. Quickly he made up a very simple picnic, found two plastic cups and shoved everything in a bag.
He emerged, and Jack insisted he should carry the bag as they walked to the end of the street and crossed the road to walk along the picturesque canal a short way. They sat down on a bench part way up a steep, grassy, bank that had been cut out to look like an amphitheatre with the canal itself where the stage would be. The water was dark and brown, and swans and signets were gliding through the water away from the current pouring over the edge of the lock.
They ate and chatted about the weather, and as they finished their sandwiches, Jack glanced around. “There's nobody about,” he observed with a mischievous grin. “Do you think that with the added danger …?”
Ianto bit his lip and glanced around, too. He sincerely doubted the 'added excitement' might help Jack, but he supposed it was worth a try. He squeezed Jack's knee, then slid his hand up between his thighs. “Lie back and relax,” he instructed, and Jack leaned his elbows on the back of the bench, tipping his head back and closing his eyes.
Ianto touched him and stroked him, but it was futile. Eventually Jack pushed his hand away and fastened himself back up, before packing away the remains of the picnic and starting to talk about heading back. Ianto sighed and caught up with him. “Pressuring yourself isn't going to help, Jack.”
“Mm. You shouting at me last night didn't help, either.”
“Don't think you have to do it for me or anything like that, because now that I know … well, I don't care that we're not having sex now that I know. In fact the only thing that I'm bothered about as far as being bedded goes is that you didn't think you could tell me sooner.”
“Things were bad enough between us as it was without adding this into the mix. I thought that … I thought that if we just went for it, and if I just let you … Well, here we are. It didn't work.”
“I did tell you you should work less,” Ianto muttered.
“I worked as hard as I did so that you could have everything you wanted.”
“How would you know what I want?” Ianto snapped. “You never stopped to ask!”
They walked on in cold silence for a moment, before Jack spoke again, quietly. “What do you want, then?”
“I don't think this is the place for that conversation,” Ianto replied as they crossed the road and approached the end of their street.
“You do realise that whatever it is you want, once I get it for you it won't be enough.”
“You told me you wanted to move to the Gladstone side of town, we moved to the Gladstone side of town – but the outside of the house isn't right, the garden's too big, the neighbours are all stuck up, it's too close to the university and you re-hung all the doors so that they'd open the other way. You wanted me to get you nice a car, I got you a nice car – but it's too flashy, too noisy, too difficult to handle for someone only just learning to drive. And when the oven broke last year, I got you a new one – but you just can't stand the fact that it cleans itself, can you? No, you've got to break that one trying to take out the mechanism so that you can do it yourself and make me have to buy another one.”
“You didn't get me what I wanted,” Ianto said quietly. “I asked to move because the area was rough and bad for Giacomo, so you moved us into a house you wanted. I asked for a car so that I could learn to drive, and you bought the one you test drove and the one you wanted. I asked for a new oven, and you did let me choose it. Yes, I accidentally broke the first one – but then you bought a fucking electronic chef that didn't even let me do my own cooking!”
“How is that bad?”
“I need something to do besides dust and hoover every day!”
“What about your friends?”
“What – Rhys? He has his proper man friends who take apart engines, reprogram component drivers and get dirty and smelly. I don't fit in with him any more.”
“What about Mr. Turnbull?”
“He has how many children now?”
“Elaine and Ivy?”
“Elaine is weird around me, and Ivy just stands there with folded arms like I'm about to jump on her wife and get her pregnant, too. The only company I have during the day is a hamster-dog that gonna drop dead in the next few days.”
They were at their front door, and Jack opened it to let Ianto through first. They both removed their shoes in the hallway before carrying on.
“Ianto … are you unhappy?”
“Well done, Jack. You finally got the message.”
Jack sank into the sofa. “Oh,” he breathed, staring straight ahead and looking exactly as he had when Ianto had found him that morning: like he'd been fired again. “Y'know,” he said, with a sudden air of faked joviality. “You haven't told me you love me in a while.”
Swallowing and folding his arms, Ianto stared at the ground. “It's hard to be in love with someone who's never even there.”
The statement hung in the air. Ianto glanced up to read Jack's expression.
Message received, and understood.
Jack drew a shuddering breath. “So what do you want to do, then?”
Ianto gave him a questioning frown.
“About us,” Jack clarified. “What do you want to do? Split up?”
Ianto took a deep breath in through his nose, leaning awkwardly on the sideboard. “No,” he said, shaking his head. “No, I don't want to split up.”
“Have you thought about splitting up?” Jack asked, his jaw set.
He couldn't lie. Ianto nodded. “I have. That's how I know I don't want to.”
“This could be a new point for us, Ianto. This could be where we start afresh and turn it all around – make it work, like it did before.”
“It will be,” Ianto agreed, his tone firm. “I didn't fall through six billion years of time to find out again and … and …”
His impassioned speech was cut short by a knock at the door. Ianto told Jack to wait a minute while he went and answered it. He could see, through the textured glass, a bright purple blob on the other side and frowned. “Ophelia?” he said, after pulling open the door.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Jones!” she chirruped happily. “Is Giacomo allowed to play out?”
“Giacomo's at school. Why aren't you at school?”
“It's the last day,” she frowned. “We had a half-day today. Didn't Giacomo tell you?”
“No! He bloody didn't!”
“... oh. Oops.”
Ianto bit his tongue. “Thank you, Ophelia. I won't tell Giacomo you called when I find him.”
“Thanks,” she winced. “Bye, Mr. Jones!”
She practically ran away down the street, and Ianto watched her go as his blood began to steadily boil. “Jack! Giacomo's gone AWOL!”
Jack appeared in the doorway instantly. “AWOL?”
“Apparently his last day of term was a half-day, and he didn't breathe a word of it to me. Now he's disappeared – even Ophelia has no idea where to.”
“There's a tracker in his rucksack,” Jack said quickly, hurrying upstairs to fetch the laptop.
“A tracker in his rucksack,” Jack repeated, “You'll thank me in two minutes.”
Ianto sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, deciding not to argue and waited for Jack to finish dramatically typing as he brought up a tracking program. “Hey!” he indignantly grunted. “That's me!”
He pointed at a dot with the label 'Ianto' covering where their house would be on the birds-eye view map on the screen.
“I get tracking Giacomo – but tracking me?”
“Only for emergencies,” sighed, and a moment later the map jumped to where Giacomo's dot was. “What's he doing on a bus?” Jack frowned.
“We don't have insurance to walk to the city centre – he'd have to bus it until he got to the pedestrianised bit.”
“Why's he going to the city centre?”
“We should get in the car and head him off,” Ianto decided. “You direct that feed to my phone and we'll find out where he's going.”
They hurried into the car, Jack doing a violent three-point turn and throwing Ianto around in his seat. Ianto grumbled loudly. “That's it, honey. Drive it like you stole it.”
Jack ignored him, simply demanding directions. They parked up on a small patch outside the Home Guard Club and made their way up a short but steep hill until they reached the city centre. Ianto located Giacomo's dot to the left of them, and they found a three-storey hotel with a lavish lobby and grand reception desk.
“He's definitely in there, according to this,” Ianto sighed. “What's he doing here?”
Jack marched straight through the front doors and over to the reception desk. “Hi, I'm Captain Jack Harkness. You haven't seen a little eleven-year-old boy about yay high,” - he raised a hand to show Giacomo's height - “come through here have you? Blue uniform blazer and a large rucksack?”
“Yes, he came to visit a guest.”
“I'm his father, and I want to know why he's here,” Jack growled.
Ianto scrubbed a hand through his hair behind him. He stepped closer to the desk, smiling politely. “Hi, sorry about him. He's just worried – we both are. If you could just give us an idea of who he's come to visit, and maybe let us see him …”
The girl behind the desk smiled back at him. “He came to see Monsieur Ravé, in our small meeting room just over there,” she pointed.
Jack didn't need telling twice, and Ianto had to grab his arm to slow him down. “Don't just go barging in there, please. It's in a meeting room – it'll be fine. Why can't we just -” Jack kicked the door and it swung open since it hadn't been locked. “- knock,” Ianto finished with a sigh.
Giacomo was sat at the table with an elderly man and a middle-aged woman, both well dressed and wearing kind smiles. Across the table before them were pages and pages of Giacomo's drawings and paintings. He stared at them, colour rising in his cheeks as he realised he'd been caught and shuffling in his seat, frightened that they were angry with him – angry enough to have dragged Jack away from his work, at any rate.
“Erm … hello?” the man at the head of the table said. “How might we help you?”
Ianto stamped discreetly on Jack's foot. “We're his parents,” he calmly told them. “He didn't tell us he was … doing anything today, and we were a little worried. Um … what's going on?”
The man gave Giacomo a very searching look, then turned back to Ianto, indicating he and Jack should sit. “Your son is interested in attending the Louvre Art School, and we are interested in having him. At the moment, we're conducting an interview and portfolio examination.”
Giacomo was staring at the desk, resolutely not making eye contact with anyone.
“Louvre?” Jack repeated. “New Paris? He wants to do secondary school in New Paris?”
“Not just high school: art school.”
Jack's mouth hung open slightly. “Giacomo? You never mentioned this?”
Giacomo shrugged, still staring at the desk. Ianto squeezed his shoulder. “Why didn't you say anything?”
“Because you were pushing me so hard to do the entrance exam for King's School,” mumbled Giacomo. “I only sent my stuff to New Paris 'cause I didn't think anything would come of it but I could say I tried. Then they wanted more stuff, and then they wanted an interview. I was gonna tell you, I promise! - but …”
“Never the right time,” Ianto finished for him, then turned to the man he figured must be Monsieur Ravé. “Could we take Giacomo outside for a moment and speak to him in private?”
“Here, we'll leave you for five minutes,” he replied, and got up from the table, his silent female companion following him.
“So,” Jack began, leaning on the table. “You want to go to New Paris?”
“I didn't think anything would happen!” Giacomo repeated.
“It doesn't matter, Giacomo. Is that what you want, though? To be an artist?”
“I want to be an illustrator,” he said, dropping his eyes to the desk and running a finger along the grain.
Ianto stroked his hair. “I don't know if we can afford New Paris, though, Giacomo. Things are going to be getting hard for us pretty soon.”
“Monsieur Ravé said I could have a scholarship, so it's just accommodation and travel to France and stuff.”
“For seven years, Giacomo. Why does it have to be New New Paris?”
Jack cleared his throat. “Louvre is the Cambridge of the young artists' world,” he explained. “If he goes there, he'll have no shortage of jobs.”
Giacomo raised his head. “You'd let me go?”
Ianto squeezed his shoulder again. “I'll figure something out money-wise if you get accepted – as long as you are one hundred per cent certain that this is definitely what you want.”
“I am!” Giacomo nodded vigorously. “And if I don't get in, I promise I'll get into King's.”
“If you don't get in, you'll get into a more local art school,” Ianto told him, and Giacomo looked like he was about to cry. He grinned widely and hugged Ianto tight, then scrambled under the desk to hug and kiss Jack.
They looked through Giacomo's drawings and paintings as they waited for Ravé to return, and one sketch in particular grabbed Ianto's attention. It was of him and Jack, certainly, sat at complete opposite sides of a sofa and staring straight ahead, ignoring each other.
Ianto pushed it under the rest of the scattered pile and hoped Jack wouldn't come across it.
Eventually Monsieur Ravé returned, and resumed his seat at the head of the table. “Miss Jensen and I were talking, and we have come to our decision. We shall send you a formal letter detailing our decision in the post.”
Giacomo shook hands with the two representatives, then allowed himself to be guided out onto the street and down to the car.
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